Chapter Two . . .
As the sun rose over the already bustling city, Martha gazed out of the window of her rented studio apartment. The energy was so enthralling and just what she felt she needed. It was a chance to blend in, get lost in the crowd of unfamiliar faces and most importantly shed all the expectations her old life had burdened her with. Martha had grown weary of that expectancy. She was always the one expected to toe the line, succeed, hold everything together but how could she do that when she was barely holding herself together. Martha sighed. She was so tired of feeling suffocated by the promise she was supposed to have. She just needed to be for a while and see if she could regain her former self.
That was why she chose New York City for her escape. What was that old saying? If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. She smiled again, banking on that idea standing up. She was now happy that she’d never gotten around to getting rid of her place in the city after the UNIT office was eradicated by the Daleks. She briefly recalled her stint here. Work was her top priority so she didn’t get a chance to explore the city the way she would have liked. Now, though, she had spent that past couple weeks exploring her surroundings, visiting some of the sights, especially the Statue of Liberty. A slight smile played on her lips as she thought about that view and how it had lured her back more than half a dozen times. It wasn’t the easiest ticket in town but she had somehow managed to make it to the top twice and was always rewarded with a breathtaking view of the harbor and the city. There was just something about being there that made her feel on top of the world. She had plans to catch a couple of Broadway shows and investigate some of the featured neighborhoods such as Harlem as well but the heart of the city was where she felt like she had a chance to forget and embrace life again.
She turned from the window and continued her ruminations. This was her opportunity to enjoy the city without the threat of being kidnapped or an imminent alien invasion. She stopped those thoughts. They were a big part of the reason she had chosen to leave her life behind. The weight of everything she had become was just taking too much of a toll and she knew if she didn’t do something she might lose herself to it forever. And so as she gave one more passing glance out the window, she made herself a silent vow to do whatever it took to heal and take back her life while enjoying a long overdue hiatus in the city that never sleeps.
Back in England, the Doctor had arrived at Martha’s flat shortly after he finished his conversation with Jack. Apparently, Martha had been slowly drifting away from everyone in her life. She’d been having a hard time since the stolen Earth mess. Jack relayed that she’d been continually beating herself up over her threat to blow up herself and the planet during that Dalek invasion. Jack had argued that she didn’t go through with it though and also that he didn’t believe she could have but she made it clear that until the moment she was transported onto the Crucible she wasn’t so sure she wouldn’t have. The Doctor remembered his own shock at her threat but like Jack he hadn’t been so sure that she would have been able to go through it. Martha, though, appeared to disagree and that was disturbing. She was always so willing to do whatever was necessary even when it wasn’t in her best interest but to think that she would have brought on the destruction of her own planet like he had struck a deep chord with the Doctor. Had he done that to her?
He momentarily shook off that thought and placed his focus back on the task at hand. He walked across the street and to the door of the two-story dwelling and had to smile in spite of himself. Martha Jones . . . strong, reliable, compassionate Martha, where did you go? He inhaled deeply before sonicking his way into her home, intent on answering that very question. As he entered the house, he was instantly struck by how bleak it felt. There was very little color, even fewer knick knacks or signs of a bright young mind occupying it. It was like a house without any life or personality of its own. The feeling was almost the exact opposite of the Martha who had once been his companion, so bubbly and full of life, ready to take the plunge on a moment’s notice. The Doctor continued his stroll through the house gazing at the few mementos and knick-knacks that she did manage to have about. One in particular caught his interest, a ceramic tramp clown sitting on a bench with his hobo pack that sat on the fireplace mantle. He smiled lightly. At least, he thought, all her levity hadn’t been extinguished.
His eye was eventually drawn to a glass encased cabinet that housed numerous pictures of her, family and friends. As he studied them, he noticed that the photos were arranged from the top, where she was a playful young child with her siblings down to the bottom where she stood barely smiling next to Mickey Smith of all people. It was strange to see the photos morph from a carefree youth to a more severe woman. They appeared to chronicle a life slowly disintegrating and he couldn’t help but wonder about the role he had played in that collapse. Jack had also communicated to him about both of her ill-fated engagements. Tom Milligan couldn’t handle the solider she was becoming as her work with the UNIT became more involved and Mickey embraced that part of her to the exclusion of everything else she was. Neither man seemed able to fulfill the balance she was desperately searching for.
He did some more cursory investigating, trying to find anything that might point him to where she might have gone. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in either the living room or the kitchen and so he cautiously moved on to her bedroom. He paused outside of the door, feeling a bit like he was invading her privacy but tempering that with the belief that he was doing so to help her. The Doctor finally entered and found her room in almost military condition. The bed was perfectly made and everything was neatly in order from her clothing to her shoes lined up across the closet floor. It was this tidiness that first led the Doctor’s eye to something slightly out of place. The offending item was barely detectable except that he was looking intensely for it. He moved over to her bookcase and noticed that the selections mirrored the photos downstairs. The first couple of shelves were medical books but as his eye traveled further down he noticed a decided shift in subject matter. Numerous war novels and biographies made up the next row but it was one book that sat slightly ajar from the rest that caught his eye.
A book of maps stood out from the rest of the fare and as he reached for it, he immediately noticed that the spine of the book was creased at a certain point, making it clear it had been opened to a particular section more times than any other. He opened it to find before him a map of the United States. He studied it intently and detected a faint circle around one city in particular. A small smile came to his face once more. His moment of discovery was abruptly cut short by a familiar, edgy voice.
“I knew it. Where is she? Where is my daughter?” The Doctor closed the book he had been holding and turned to face a distressed Francine Jones.